Where’s your website in the Google rankings right now? If you’re not sure exactly what position you occupy, then you’re most likely not at the top of Page One. The first page prize is a hard won milestone for websites. Knowing exactly how to get found in Google takes effort, care and stamina. Once a Page One result achieved, there’s no way that anyone wants to give it up.
So, apart from coming top, why is it so important to get a spot on the first page of Google?
The numbers tell the story. Over 90% of online journeys start with a search engine, and it’s usually Google. The vast majority of searchers find what they’re looking for on the first page of results served up to them. Nearly half of them click the first result on page one. With 70,000 Google searches every second, that’s quite a potential payday for the top spot.
So what happens if you’re on page 2, or 3? Nothing is the answer. Absolutely nothing. Whilst you’re waiting for the phone to ring, all the Google traffic is getting gobbled up by those websites that either bought in SEO professionals, or read articles like this. So – here’s your chance to be the one that made it to Page One, starting right now. The Imagefix ultimate guide to getting on the first page of Google awaits. Ready to begin? Here goes…
Google launched in 1998 with a clear mission: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google Search is all about accessing that information in a click. As of 2021 there are 1,197,982,359 websites on the internet, made up of trillions of web pages. Google organises information about every single webpage in their Search index, in order to be able to serve up the most relevant, useful results for online searchers like you.
The Google Index contains more information than all the world’s libraries put together. And it’s created by spiders; these are automated software so called because they crawl the vast internet collecting information for processing and indexing. The spiders find new websites, but they also crawl updates of existing websites for information. The shape of the world’s information is constantly shifting thanks to this endless task.
When you type your search query into Google, the index will return the most relevant results in seconds. How does it do this? Google’s algorithm is a closely guarded secret, but it uses over 200 ranking factors to determine the best match. These include: the relevance of the content, the keywords used, how often the site is updated, the reviews left by users, social media presence, and the quality of its linking network.
Google aims for search results that are relevant, accurate, up-to-date and appropriate. So the way to achieve a top spot in the Google search rankings is to ensure that your website ticks all those boxes for your customers.
Google spiders find every website eventually, but there is a way to speed the process up. It’s called indexing and it’s simply a way of catching Google’s attention when you have new web material. If you’ve had a website for a while, it may already be indexed. Here’s how to check:
Type site:your domain into Google:
You’ll be able to see how many pages Google has already indexed.
If your website isn’t already indexed, you can ‘request indexing’. It’s not as simple as sending a text, but this excellent indexing guide from Ahrefs, takes you through the process step-by-step.
Top Tip: If you are having a website professionally designed, make sure that it is fully indexed at handover.
At the heart of Google’s ranking process are two words: authority and relevance. Whatever the query typed into Google, they will respond with the most authoritative site, offering the most relevant information. Meaning? Here’s a couple of really basic examples of the hugely complex way Google decides how to respond to searchers’ queries:
This kind of detailed analysis is a great way to get to know how Google ranks for relevancy and authority. Sites considered relevant and authoritative haven’t achieved their ranking overnight. They will have put the work in over months to get Google’s approval. Having said that, the principles by which Google determines a high ranking site are available to absolutely any business. Here’s 9 qualities that have to be present for a top Google ranking:
Make sure that your site content is focused, sharp and relevant. If you sell office furniture, provide ‘how to’ guides for organising your home office, making the most of small spaces, and office storage. Stay on topic, and solve the problems you know your customers need help with.
Online searchers use a variety of devices but mobile accounts for around 60% of all search traffic. A ‘responsive’ website adapts to whatever device it’s being viewed on. The design should look as good, and offer the same functionality, whether it’s accessed on a phone or a desktop.
Online searchers have dozens of websites to choose from, courtesy of Google Search, so why would they linger on yours? An engaging website provides good looking design, eye-catching imagery, content that’s easy to scan, lots of relevant info and a range of media.
Content is at the heart of Google’s project, and well-written copy is key to a good ranking position. Online searchers don’t want ‘blah’; they’re looking for copy that will reward their attention, and honour their intelligence. Keep your website copy simple, clear and easy to read.
Consider ways in which you can share your expertise with visitors. Google rewards this kind of endeavour. They like videos showing how to design the perfect working space, FAQs, bulleted checklists, and articles explaining ‘how to’.
Google is aware that information is a constantly shifting science. A website that doesn’t update will rank poorly. On the other hand, websites that provide visitors with new content regularly in a range of formats will be considered relevant and therefore worthy of a higher ranking.
4 seconds is the upper limit of the time it should take for your website to load. More than that and the bounce rate leaps. Worse than that, nearly 50% of users say that they would return to a poorly performing website. So why would Google want to rank slow loading websites?
You may be confident that you are not compromising your visitors’ online security – but how do your visitors know that? In order to rank in any meaningful way, websites need an SSL certificate (https instead of http); security plugins installed, regular updates and strong passwords.
Google trusts sites that are linked to by other trusted sites – called backlinks. So contact local businesses and suggest you’ll recommend their site if they recommend yours. Submit blogs and articles to online trade publications. Find partners whose products complement yours.
In the rest of this guide, we’ll be developing a checklist of practical actions any business can carry out to raise their Google ranking.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is how you turn those principles we’ve just been talking about into actions that create ranking results. Can you achieve a Page One Google Search ranking without SEO? Not likely. Not even remotely likely. There are armies of SEO professionals working full time to keep their products in the top spot, so leaving it to chance isn’t an option if you’re serious about getting found on Google.
SEO can be broken down into 4 main types of activity:
If you tried to build a house without a solid foundation it would fall down. In the same way, if you try to sell online without keyword research your marketing will collapse. Here’s why.
That’s the big picture, the principle that drives sales in Google. Now let’s look at how it works in practice.
Suppose you have a flower shop and you want to grow your online delivery service. A few obvious keywords are ‘flower shop’, ‘flower delivery’ ‘fresh flowers’. Type any of these phrases into Google and see what comes up. You’ll quickly see that using these keywords will put you in competition with the UK’s biggest florists.
If you’re planning local deliveries, it would be inaccurate to use keywords that relate to the whole of the UK. Your shop serves a particular geographic region – let’s say St Neots in Cambridgeshire. Google will want to know this in order to achieve relevance for searchers. Your keywords are now ‘flower delivery St Neots’, ‘fresh flowers Cambridgeshire’, etc.
Find out the keywords that your closest competitor uses. Make a list of the words and phrases that are used as titles; these might be ‘same day flowers’, ‘florist online’, ‘family florist’. These are the keywords that your competitor is using to grab Google’s attention. You may want use some of them yourself, but is there anything different that you do?
Who are your customers and why do they choose your shop? It could be because your flowers are long-lasting. Or maybe they like the friendly advice they get from you. Perhaps your flowers are cheaper. Start searching on Google for key phrases that describe what your customers like about your flower shop.
At the end of this exercise, you will have a much longer list of keywords: fresh flowers, flower delivery, flowers online, same day flowers, flowers St Neots, Cambridgeshire florist, flower delivery Cambs, friendly local florist St Neots, same day flower delivery, free same day delivery St Neots, flowers for weddings St Neots.
There are a number of free keyword research tools that can help you in this task.
These will provide suggestions, and tell you whether there is ‘volume’ for any particular keyword. Volume relates to the number of online searches carried out each month. ‘Online florist’ for example, gets 8,100 searches.
Once you’ve completed your keyword research you should have a fairly long list of words and phrases that your customers are likely to use when searching for the product you sell. It helps if you spend some time organising that list into 5-10 keywords that define your offering closest, and then do your own ranking process on the rest.
Now you can begin to use the keywords in order to attract visitors to your site. It’s like building a house from the foundations upwards. This process is called on-page SEO and it’s based on the ranking factors Google applies to website content. We’ll look at the ranking factors for a home page, as an example, but they apply to all your web pages.
This is your headline page; it is the major signpost Google will use to direct people to your site. It should be relevant, and have content that people want to engage with. Start with your main keyword. Sticking with the flower shop example, it could be ‘Local Florist St Neots’. This becomes the title of your page.
If your visitor types into Google “Local Florist St Neots” what are they expecting? Google expects you to work out what your visitors want to know, and to fulfil those expectations. Think of the kinds of questions your customers have, and try to make sure you address them on your front page. Offer your visitors clear links to other pages they may find helpful.
Apart from your title keyword, you can also use a range of ‘secondary’ keywords in your content. Think of these like a cloud of phrases that you would want visitors to associate with your shop. Keep your content clear and simple. It should also be original. Google is good at picking up ‘cut and paste’ material, and your ranking will suffer if you use it.
Visitors will quickly click away from pages that are poorly written, of little relevance to the title keyword, or are badly structured. This generates a ‘bounce rate’ for your page. The higher the bounce rate, the lower the relevance as far as Google is concerned.
Meta title tags are what appear in the Google Search results. They are made up of a title in blue, and a couple of lines description below. It is also the first impression that visitors get of your site.
The title is made up of: Your Page Title | Secondary Keyword – Brand Name
Example: Local Florist St Neots | Same Day Flower Delivery – Beals
The meta-description offers a brief summary of your product offering. It’s a quick pitch for online searchers.
Example: Family business at the heart of St Neots. Your local florist for fresh flowers daily and online ordering. Browse our beautiful bouquets for same day delivery.
This is a simple one – make sure that your page title appears in the page’s url. It should read: domain name/title of page. So Imagefix’s SEO page looks like this: https://imagefix.co.uk/organic-seo-fixer/
The Google spiders need to be able to read the url for relevant information to add to the index.
When you include images on your web pages, you’re asked to include ‘alt text’. This stands for ‘alternative text’ and it provides a description of the image, should it be impossible to view it for some reason. Your alt text should make use of keywords, and offer a clear description for visitors.
An SEO optimised web page should:
✔︎ Demonstrate absolute relevance to its title for visitors
✔︎ Use original content with no cut and paste material
✔︎ Include the title in the meta tag and description
✔︎ Include the title in the url
✔︎ Use 5-10 secondary keywords naturally within the copy
✔︎ Provide links to other web pages on the site where relevant
✔︎ Link to at least one external page which has relevance for visitors
✔︎ Link page to the home page, if it is a sub-page
Imagine you found a shop selling just what you were looking for on the High Street. You browse the window display, which is rather pleasing, and make for the shop door feeling excited to to buy. Only the door’s stuck and you have to bang on the glass to get the shop keeper’s attention. Once inside, you can’t find what you’re looking for, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone available to ask. After a few minutes of mounting frustration, you’re more than likely to make for the exit.
Technical SEO is all about making a trip to your website pleasurable for visitors. Google uses technical SEO ranking factors for two reasons. First, because there are a few technical elements required for crawlers to index your website accurately. Second, because poor user experience leads to a high bounce rate, which drops your ranking.
The Imagefix SEO team has selected the top 8 tech SEO ranking factors. These are the ones we regularly see websites trip over when they’re trying to rank. They’re also pretty easy to fix.
A website that’s slow to load is like a shop that’s not properly open. It frustrates visitors and their first impression of your site is poor. Check out how fast your site loads. This easy-to-use tool not only tells you how fast your site loads, it also offers some suggestions for speeding it up. One of the most common reasons for slow loading pages is the inclusion of very large images, or video files. If your images are larger than 1MB se if you can resize them to improve your loading performance.
Google introduced mobile-first indexing in 2019. Since then their spiders have used the mobile version of your website when crawling its content. This causes big big problems for sites with beautiful desktop displays, that aren’t optimised for mobiles. It’s easy to check what your site looks like on a mobile – simply look it up on your phone.
For a professional audit of your pages, try Google’s mobile-friendly test. If there are any problems they’ll alert you to them, and make helpful suggestions as to solve the issues.
Dead links happen because websites evolve and mistakes happen. That doesn’t change the fact that dead links are frustrating for visitors, and Google spiders. Link hygiene is painstaking work but it’s worth it.
To minimise the number of dead links on your site, carry out checks regularly, and replace any external links that are broken. When you move or delete pages, take care to redirect urls. Best practice is to redirect the url to the new page that is replacing it.
Algorithms don’t respond well to things that confuse them. If Google encounters the same content on multiple sites it becomes confused. Which one should it rank for? The solution Google normally comes up with is to rank all of the urls.
Sometimes duplicate content is the result of lazy copywriters cutting and pasting, or duplicate blog posts posted on different sites. It’s not always that simple, though. Sometimes it’s a technical issue that doesn’t show up at the front end. Check out your duplicate content to see whether you have a problem that needs fixing.
For a website to be considered technically optimised it needs to be secure. Online searchers now expect websites to guarantee their privacy, so you need to demonstrate that you’ve got their back. At the very least you’ll need an SSL certificate; a ‘https’ website tells visitors that you take security seriously, and Google has made it one of their ranking factors.
A sitemap is a file on your site that provides detailed information on how each of the pages relate to each other. It tells Google crawlers which pages are the most important, when each page was last updated, and how the content changes over time. Not every site requires a sitemap; Google makes it clear that a sitemap should be included only if your site:
Worried about being able to do all this? The Google Search Console is there to help. It’s absolutely free, providing loads of tools to help with technical SEO tasks. Once you register you’ll be able to see what Google already knows about your website, access reports on which of your keywords are performing best, and compare different time periods to see how changes you make impact on your site traffic.
Every website has a ‘domain rating’. This is calculated according to the number of websites linking to you, the quality (or domain rating) of those websites. The way domain rating is calculated is complex, but at it’s base is this equation: domain authority increases with the number of high ranking websites linking to your website. As you achieve ‘authority’ more people will trust your site, visit it and share with others.
Type ‘domain authority’ into Google and you will find thousands of articles advising you on strategies and techniques you can use to improve it. At Imagefix our approach to domain authority is personalised to each client. Why? Because the available backlinks will be different for each business. There are, however, 4 common approaches we use, because they have delivered consistently good results for clients.
As a first step, find out what your current domain authority is (ranked 1-100) by using a free domain SEO Analysis Tool such as the one provided by MOZ. As well as providing your domain authority score, it will also tell you which sites are currently linking to you, and what their domain authority is. If you spot any high ranking sites you may want to investigate what they’re linking to and why. Understanding what people are looking for from your site, and how you can give them more of what they want is half the battle.
Whilst Google tends to be rather coy about the relationship of social media to search engine ranking, the correlation is clear.
A Google My Business account is free to set up, and it’s an absolute must-have if you’re a local business wanting to capitalise on ‘near me’ mobile searches. Having a Google My Business account means that when someone’s using Google Search, or Google Maps, they’ll find you. Your account gives you a local business profile, and allows you to post current news, reviews, videos and images which appear in the search results.
Imagine someone types ‘Plumbers near me’ into their search; we make sure that if the search is local, your business will appear in the 3 featured results that at the top of the first page.
We hope that How to Get Found on Google – the Ultimate Guide has helped you to make sense of SEO, and search engine ranking. More than that, we hope it has got you fired up about improving your business website’s SEO, and moving it towards a Page One ranking. One thing we ask all our clients to remember though:
It can take between 6-9 months to get a new website ranking for keywords on Google – although some sites get there much quicker depending on the market and the competition.
SEO is hard work, and you really earn that moment of celebration when you hit the top spot.
The great news is that once you’ve made it, you’ll find that your top spot is pretty stable. The SEO work is ongoing (it never stops), and you may fluctuate up and down a few ranking positions, but so long as you update your content regularly you’ll keep your overall position.
And remember – the prize is a big slice of the 70,000 Google searches that have taken place in the time it’s taken you to read this sentence.
If you just don’t have the time or resources to invest in home-grown organic SEO, why not let the Imagefix team do it for you? We are a digital marketing agency with over a decade’s experience in delivering excellent results for the clients we work with. Our team can guarantee you a higher ranking position for your business and – crucially – growth in visitors to your site, leading to more conversions.
Here’s what our comprehensive SEO service looks like:
Our approach to SEO for your business will be tailored to your sector, and you’ll have an SEO manager who will be your point of contact for reporting, queries and reviews of progress.
Recent Case Study
Custom Concrete is a local supplier of on-site mixed concrete. In 2020, at the start of the global pandemic, they asked the Imagefix team improve their SEO ranking in Google Search across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
12 months on, Custom Concrete has a Number One Google ranking for all key terms across their three target counties. As a result, they have experienced a 60% increase in their organic search traffic. This has grown the number of enquiries they receive and increased sales throughout the year.
Imagefix Web Design,
Brickhill Drive, Bedford,
Bedfordshire, MK41 7PH.
Imagefix Ltd, Building 52,
Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedford,
Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR.
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